The love or even the sympathy we extend to the dead eases his path, removes hindrances from him

In order that we may really understand one another, I want to speak first of certain aspects of the mutual relationship between the living and the dead, starting with a quite simple phenomenon which will be explained in accordance with the findings of spiritual investigations. Souls who sometimes practise a little self-contemplation will be able to observe the following (and I believe that many have done so). Let us suppose that someone has hated another person in life, or perhaps it was, or is, merely a question of antipathy or dislike. When the person towards whom hatred or antipathy was directed dies, and the other hears of his death, he will feel that the same hatred or antipathy cannot be maintained. If the hatred persists beyond the grave, sensitive souls will feel a kind of shame that it should be so. This feeling — and it is present in many souls — can be observed by clairvoyance. During self-examination the question may well be asked: Why is it that this feeling of shame at some hatred or antipathy arises in the soul, for the existence of such hatred was never at any time admitted to a second person?

When the clairvoyant investigator follows in the spiritual worlds the one who has passed through the gate of death and then looks back upon the soul who has remained on the earth, he finds that, generally speaking, the soul of the dead has a very clear perception, a very definite feeling, of the hatred in the soul of the living man. The dead sees the hatred — if I may speak figuratively. The clairvoyant investigator is able to confirm with all certainty that this is so. But he can also perceive what such hatred signifies for the dead. It signifies an obstacle to the good endeavours of the dead in his spiritual development, an obstacle comparable with hindrances standing in the way of some external goal on earth. In the spiritual world the dead finds that the hatred is an obstacle to his good endeavours. And now we understand why hatred — even if there was justification for it in life — dies in the soul of one who practises a little self-contemplation: the hatred dies because a feeling of shame arises in the soul when the one who was hated has died. True, if the man is not clairvoyant he does not know the reason for this, but implanted in the very soul there is a feeling of being observed; the man feels: the dead sees my hatred and it is an actual hindrance to his good endeavours.

Many feelings rooted deeply in the human soul are explained when we rise into the worlds of spirit and recognize the spiritual facts underlying these feelings. Just as when doing certain things on earth we prefer not to be physically observed and would refrain from doing them if we knew this was happening, so hatred does not persist after a person’s death when we have the feeling that we ourselves are being observed by him. But the love or even the sympathy we extend to the dead eases his path, removes hindrances from him.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Links Between the Living and the Dead – Bergen, 10th October 1913

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on July 1, 2017

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Two thousand years of Christianity

We have the advantage over the Asian culture in that we have the Christ-mystery. But what do the Asian people say? I will now tell you something that I did not make up myself, but something that Asians with insight say. They say: ‘wonderful, you fellows have the Christ-mystery over on us; that is something we do not have, therefore you view yourselves to be at a higher cultural level. But you say for example: “by your fruits, you will be recognized.” Your religion advocates that people must love each other, but if we look at the way you live, then we do not see that you love one another. You send missionaries to Asia, who tell us all kinds of great things; but when we come to Europe, if all this is true, we actually see people are not living in the way we were told people should be living! ‘ – That is what the Asian people say.

Think about it, are they so significantly wrong? At a religious conference, where representatives of all faiths spoke, this exact topic was discussed, and what I just said is what the Asian representatives said. They said, ‘you send us missionaries, that is certainly all very beautiful. But you’ve already had Christianity for two thousand years; we cannot see that your moral development is so vastly superior to ours as you assume it to be!’

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 169 – Weltwesen und Ichheit – Berlin, July 18, 1916 (page 159)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on June 6, 2017

Good thoughts and feelings give wings to the dead

It is very important to send our thoughts and feelings to a loved one who has died and is now in the spiritual worlds. Our thoughts must not contain yearnings to have the departed back with us, as this complicates his life in the spheres in which he must now enter. What we need to send to the spiritual worlds is not the suffering we endure but the love we bear towards the departed. […] Spiritual research has shown that feelings of love give wings that bear the dead up, whereas longings like: “Oh how I wish you were still with us” create obstacles in his path. This is a general indication of how to direct our feelings in such events.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 264 – From a letter to Paula Stryczek – Berlin, 31 December 1905 (page 101)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on April 27, 2017

Love & Sexuality

In the age of materialism it is exceedingly difficult to maintain in true and right perspective, this concept of compassion or love. Many of you will realise that in our materialistic times this concept is distorted, in that materialism associates the concept of “love” so closely with that of “sexuality” — with which, fundamentally, it has nothing whatever to do. That is a point where the culture of our day abandons both intelligence and sound, healthy reason. Through its materialism, evolution in our time is veering not only towards the unintelligent and illogical but even towards the scandalous, when “love” is dragged into such close association with what is covered by the term “sexuality.”

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 133 – Earthly and Cosmic Man: Lecture VI – Berlin, May 14, 1912

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Our failure to develop love and compassion

The egoism we develop in the physical world, without being willing to acquire self-knowledge, shows up when it is carried into spiritual worlds. Nothing is so disturbing, nothing can be so bitter and disheartening as to experience the result of our failure to develop love and compassion in the physical world. Ascending into the spiritual world, we are filled with anguish by the selfishness and lack of love we have achieved in the physical-sense world. When we cross the threshold, everything is revealed, not only the obvious but also the hidden egoism that rages in the depths of men’s souls.

Someone who with outward egoism frankly insists that he wants this or that for himself is perhaps much less egoistic than those who indulge in the dream that they are selfless, or those who assume a certain egoistic self-effacement out of theosophical abstractions in their upper consciousness. This is especially the case when the latter declaim their selflessness in all sorts of repetitions of the words “love” and “tolerance.” What a person carries up into higher worlds in the form of an unloving lack of compassion is transformed into hideous, often terrifying figures he meets on entering the spiritual worlds, figures that are extremely disturbing for the soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 147 – Secrets of the Threshold – Lecture VIII – Munich, 31 August 1913

Translated by Ruth Pusch

Previously posted on May 28, 2016